Last updated on November 22, 2022
When it comes to meat and dairy products, there is no question about their place (or lack of) in a vegan diet. Honey, on the other hand, tends to spark debate amongst vegans and non-vegans alike. Since honey is an insect byproduct, people tend to wonder if it falls into the vegan category or not. Before diving into the topic, let’s remind ourselves of what it means to be vegan.
Being vegan means abstaining from eating, exploiting, and causing harm to animals.
Some people might argue that since bees are insects, and honey is made from bees, honey is exempt from the Vegan What Not to Eat book. Well, sorry to rain on your parade. Bees are in fact part of the animal kingdom, and for that reason, honey is not vegan.
Why is honey not vegan?
Since honey is produced by insects, and insects are animals, honey is not vegan. Bees create honey in order for their colony to survive winter. By consuming honey, you are taking a colony of bees’ lifelong-earned honey away from them. It takes 12 worker bees their entire life to create just enough honey to sweeten a cup of tea.
At a commercial level, bees are severely exploited and abused in order to create honey on a profitable and mass scale. For example, after the honey is stolen from the hive, it’s often replaced with highly processed corn syrup that is not optimal for their health. We also can’t ignore the many deaths that occur within industrial bee colonies due to pesticides, parasites, and poor nutrition. Not to mention, the injuries that bees incur while their honey is being stolen from their hives.
What Are The Best Vegan Honey Substitutes?
Looking for a tasty vegan honey substitute? You’ve come to the right place! Here are 10 alternatives to honey that are vegan-friendly.
#10 Date Syrup
Date syrup is another excellent honey alternative with a much richer nutritional profile. It’s the only honey alternative that contains fibre. In addition to fibre, date syrup is rich in B vitamins and vitamin K. It also contains iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and more. In fact, date syrup contains more than triple the amount of potassium found in maple syrup.
Date syrup is the least processed honey alternative. It’s basically just made by blending up soaked dates and water and filtering the mixture through a cheesecloth. Since date syrup has a very rich flavour profile, it’s not a perfect honey substitute in terms of flavour.
What is honey made out of?
In order to transform watery nectar into the thick and sweet substance known as honey, a complex chemical process takes place. This chemical process ultimately reduces the water content of the nectar and converts its sucrose into glucose and fructose. While honey is composed of at least 181 components, it’s mostly made up of water and sugar. Honey also contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids, pollen, and more.
How is honey made?
Honey begins as nectar, a sweet liquid that is produced by flowers to attract pollinators. Bees are drawn to pollen and nectar for their protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients. They drink the nectar and store the rest of it in their stomach. After collecting as much nectar as possible, they take it back to the hive, where they then regurgitate it. Workers bees pass the honey through their mouths in order to reduce its water content to about 18%. Reducing the nectar’s water content extends its shelf life, and creates what is known as honey. The honey is stored throughout winter in the hive so that the bee colony can feed its larvae in the spring and early summer. According to Science Focus, 12 bees will work their entire lifetime in order to create just 1 teaspoon of honey.
Are bees animals?
Bees are winged insects that belong to the Animalia kingdom, also known as the Animal Kingdom. Animals are often associated with four-legged creatures, however, the Animal Kingdom is divided into several classes and sub-classes. A few of the most common animal classes include mammals, fish, reptiles, birds, and of course, insects. For that reason, all insects are animals.